Argali can weigh up to 400 pounds, which makes them roughly twice the size of North American bighorn sheep. With a light brown coat, the animals are known for their impressive, spiraling horns—an Argali ram’s corkscrew horns can grow up to six feet long.
By 2001, the Argali population in Mongolia had declined even further. Fewer than 15,000 animals remained in the country. Despite the success in reducing poaching at Ikh Nart National Park, illegal hunting persisted in western Mongolia.
Activists from ‘Gulzat’ non-governmental organization (NGO) brought 10 argali skulls in Ulaanbaatar from Uvs, western Mongolian province, 1300 km from the capital. According to D.Khurelbaatar, deputy director of the NGO, they have increased the number of the argali to 2000 from 260 for last 14 years in Uvs Province. There is, however, criticism of D.Delgerkhishig, Governor of Sagil Soum and D.Batsaikhan, Governor of Uvs Province for increasing the hunting quotas of the argali sheep; but, failing to spend 50 percent of the hunting revenue on the long-term protection of the animal.
Mr. D.Khurelbaatar said ‘50-60 argali sheep died last winter due to lack of food; this is double that of previous years. In recent years, there have been 2-4 quotas for argali hunting. However, the provincial governor approved 10 argali sheep quotas in 2017; originally, Mongolian Ministry of Environment and Tourism requested these should be limited to six argali sheep. A permit to hunt argali sheep costs USD 19,000 per animal. Half the revenue should go to the provincial budget and the remainder on protecting the animal. But, the system was interrupted last year which resulted to the death of many animals. We could not find any traces of food in the stomachs of the the dead sheep.’